Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives

Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives

Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives

Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to define the House of Representatives. In writing it, I have not been satisfied merely to describe the House's great Constitutional powers, to translate into layman's language its parliamentary manuals, and to list the names and deeds of its many members. I have tried rather to portray the House itself as a living political institution. Its Constitutional powers, and the way the House has exercised them, of course have given meaning to the House's existence. Its rules and parliamentary practices have played an important and sometimes decisive role in the House's formal actions. The Representatives themselves have been the elemental ingredients who have made the House's collective judgments. The House of Representatives, however, is something more than the sum total of its legal powers, its rules, and the 435 men and women who are elected every two years as its members. The House, as well, is the product of its own past and traditions. As a legislative assembly, the House has an inner life of its own, shaped by its institutional feelings about men and things. These institutional feelings have taken palpable form in the growth of the House's committee structure, its seniority system, and its hierarchy of leaders. They have taken more subtle, intangible form in the House's almost intuitive attitudes toward its own members, the Senate, the President, and its own function in the scheme of the American government. They have helped mold the great power blocs and coalitions inside the House and to fashion the House's instinctive responses to the . . .

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